The untold life of Dorothea Bate, an intrepid woman adventurer and early scientific pioneer. In 1898, a 19-year-old girl marched into the Natural History Museum and demanded a job. At the time, no women were employed there as scientists, but for the determined Dorothea Bate this was the first step in an extraordinary career as a pioneering explorer and fossil-hunter and the beginning of an association with the Museum that was to last for more than fifty years. As a young woman in the early 1900s, she explored Cyprus, Crete and the little-known Majorca and Menorca, braving parental opposition and considerable physical hardship. In remote caves in mountains and sea-battered cliffs, she discovered fossil evidence of unique species of extinct fauna, previously unknown to science, including dwarf elephants and hippos, giant dormice and a strange, small, goat-like antelope. A woman of immense charm, wit and intelligence, she revelled in the social life of British-ruled Cyprus, playing croquet on the lawns of Government House and dancing with sailors on its asphalt tennis courts. In Crete she watched as archaeologists revealed the glories of the Minoan civilisation.
Thirty years later in Palestine, she excavated against a background of violence and the growing threat of war. Her remarkable career brought her into contact with many of the greatest archaeologists and palaeontologists of the twentieth century, among them Sir Arthur Evans, Louis and Mary Leakey and Agatha Christie's husband, Sir Max Mallowan. Internationally respected as an outstanding palaeontologist during her lifetime, Dorothea was largely forgotten after her death. Now, working from unpublished letters, papers and work diaries and re-tracing her steps, Karolyn Shindler has rediscovered Dorothea's life. This vivid and engaging biography reveals not only a unique and indomitable woman, but also the splendid personalities who worked behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum and in the expanding world of archaeology in the first half of the twentieth century.
Karolyn Shindler read Modern History at St Hugh's College, Oxford. She worked in publishing and magazines before becoming a producer and editor at the BBC. There she worked on such programmes as Radio Four's The World Tonight and BBC2's Newsnight. She also worked as a political consultant to the BBC World Service. She lives in London with her partner, the broadcaster and journalist Henry Kelly, and their son, Alexander. She is a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.